Hail The Snail: Consumers Prefer Credit Card Offers In Mail

Despite increasing familiarity with email and the Internet by many consumers, direct mail is still the preferred method for receiving offers from credit card companies.

That's according to Cardbeat, a monthly syndicated research report published by Auriemma Consulting Group, Westbury, N.Y.

About 60% of consumers say they applied for a credit card through a pre-approved direct mail offer in 2007. That's up from 39% in 2005.

The report shows that 42% of Americans acquired their most recent cards in response to a pre-approved offer received in the mail. Although banks, the Internet and direct-response TV also court consumers, mail still generates the greatest success, says Megan Bramlette, managing editor of Cardbeat.

In contrast to Americans, British consumers apply for credit cards mainly through untargeted materials such as brochures available at their banks. About 28% have ever replied to a pre-approved direct mail offer, and 15% applied for their most recent credit card this way.



Consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are handling their credit responsibly, if credit lines are any indication. Americans who acquired cards through pre-approved mail offers this year received an average credit line of $8,002. U.K. consumers who applied through the same channel got an average of $5,795, but those who filled out "take-ones" received credit lines averaging $9,729.

Credit card penetration in the U.K. is not as high as it is in the U.S. because British consumers may be more proactive in researching and obtaining card offers, says Kelly Shermack, Cardbeat Associate.

Direct mail is also not as prevalent in the U.K. Since credit cards are not as mature a payment vehicle in the U.K. as in the U.S., it may be that British issuers will, to a certain extent, leapfrog direct mail and follow the trends revealed by this study, putting more marketing budget toward take-ones, branch marketing and the Internet, she says.

Cardbeat surveyed 501 American credit card users in December 2005 and 400 in January 2007. Data from 505 British respondents was collected in January 2007.

Cardbeat is a market research service that allows subscribers to observe changes and trends in the market beyond their own customer bases. A monthly report in the U.S. and a quarterly report in the U.K. capture the results of continuous surveys that explore the needs, behaviors, motivations and reactions of a nationally representative sampling of consumers.

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